PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTINE WISE
A LANDMARK BIRTHDAY — Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower, left, and DeLand Mayor Chris Cloudman made appearances at DeLandite Edith Wise’s 100th birthday party May 20. A World War II veteran, Wise says she owes her longevity to healthy living, honesty, integrity and respect for her fellow man. Wise was presented with a proclamation by Cloudman to recognize her for her service and long life.

BY CHRISTINE WISE

Edith Wise was born on the family farm in Illinois. She attended a one-room schoolhouse until her family was forced to move from their farm during the Great Depression.

Edith with her siblings (a brother and sister) helped whenever they could to help the family survive the Depression. When President Roosevelt approved active service for women in all the branches of the U.S. military, Edith quickly enlisted in the WAVES (U.S. Navy). She served honorably until December 1945.

After service, Edith married Earl Wise, and together they had six children. Edith’s oldest son, Ralph, served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, and her youngest son, Phillip, served in the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne.

After losing her life’s mate, Earl, in the 1990s, Edith moved to Minnesota. Edith maintained her own home until a serious health incident at age 95 required that she have assistance in her home.  At that time, Edith moved from Minnesota to Florida to live with her son, Phillip, a registered nurse, and daughter-in-law Christine.  

Throughout the years, Edith had maintained to family and medical service providers that she had served honorably during World War II, but despite her assistance, she was continuously informed that no record of her service could be located, therefore VA services were denied.

When Edith moved to Florida, her son and daughter-in-law enlisted the help of our congressman Rep. Michael Waltz, and it was discovered that although Edith had informed the military that she had changed her name due to marriage, the change had never been processed, therefore, her military records remained in her maiden name, Smeaton. Upon this discovery, Edith was immediately enrolled for full VA service and is treated with the greatest of respect and TLC for her service at our local Daytona Beach VA offices.

A favorite story Edith tells of her childhood was the time her father told her he couldn’t give her a ride to school because it was too cold to take the horse out of the barn. Instead, her father gave her a hot potato that had been baked in the fire.  He told Edith to put the potato in her pocket to keep her warm while she walked to school and then she’d have the potato for her lunch.

Edith is a quiet, unassuming person who enjoys outings to museums, art fairs, parades and various community events. She believes she owes her longevity to healthy living (she neither drinks nor smokes and never has), honesty, integrity and respect for her fellow man.

In attendance at Edith’s 100th birthday party were her daughter and family from Illinois, her son from Michigan, two of her grandchildren (one from Illinois and the other from Daytona Beach), my husband (Edith’s son), myself and about 20 friends. It was a huge success, with Edith thoroughly enjoying her day. Edith told me later that the only other birthday party she has had (other than family) was a party organized for her 21st birthday, while she was in service, but it was canceled at the last moment due to an emergency on base.

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